Nyteria Colbert will dive to the floor to scramble and scrap for a loose ball. She’ll closely guard opponents — like, in-their-business close — up and down the court, and she’ll disrupt passing lanes, too.
Then, after all that, she might just drain a 3-pointer, a shot she’s purposefully added to her repertoire this season, or first-step past a defender to the hoop for a driving layup.
There are many ways that Colbert, a senior guard for Temple, impacts any given game, but she does them all with singular intention at never less than full-speed ahead.
“She’s going to go get it,” Tem-Cats head coach RaShonta LeBlanc said.
Colbert’s done a lot of getting it through the first month of the season, her fourth as a varsity player.
The 5-foot-4 guard had a team-leading 21.4 points per game average — featuring a 40-point performance in just the third outing of the year — as the Tem-Cats headed into a weekend tournament in Georgetown, which started Thursday and continued into Friday and today.
Colbert scored a combined 51 points as Temple (10-3) won its three pool-play games to make it 10 victories in its last 11 contests entering today’s tourney action.
“She’s always been a solid defensive player. Offensively, as a freshman and sophomore, she didn’t want to do anything but drive the ball to the rim,” LeBlanc said of Colbert, who also averages five rebounds and two steals a game. “Now, you see her more versatile. She’ll pull up with jump shots. She’ll shoot the 3. It’s clicking now. She’s expanded her game and she’s becoming a complete player her senior year.”
The process of becoming a complete player has layers unique to the individual, of course. However, in each instance, there always is a start. For Colbert, the genesis is pinpointed among an athletically inclined family — dad Roderick, mom Shavon, older brother Tre’Darius and younger sister Nydia.
Her parents are Temple grads. Tre’Darius was a member of the Class of 2019 and currently is a defensive lineman for Angelo State. Nydia is a sophomore softball player for the Tem-Cats.
“My dad said I had a basketball in my hands when I was 3. He grew up around basketball and was a coach. And my brother was in basketball also, so I always watched the boys play,” Colbert said Wednesday afternoon. “I would travel with them, and at their practices my dad would have me on the side shooting.”
After elementary school at Thornton and middle school at Travis Science Academy, Colbert’s arrival on Temple’s campus coincided with LeBlanc’s first season in charge of the Tem-Cats after two years leading Beaumont Central.
In the early stages of molding a program that fit her visions and requirements, LeBlanc noticed a savvy, energetic freshman.
“I saw (Colbert) play one game on JV and I said, ‘Nah, she has to come play varsity,’” LeBlanc recalled. “She had something that I didn’t see in a lot of the other players when I came here. There’s something that she has and has always had since her ninth-grade year.”
And that something is?
“She has what I call a dog mentality. That’s her nature. It doesn’t matter who she’s playing, how she’s playing. She’s going to go get it the best way she knows how,” LeBlanc said. “She’s going to find a way to get it done, and that has helped her as a player and grow as a young lady. She pushes through a lot of things to try to get the results.”
For all the talk about Colbert’s tenacious, no-mercy approach on the court, her demeanor off of it couldn’t be more opposite — light-hearted, personable and usually smiling. It all changes when lights are turned on inside Wildcat Gym, or any gym. Her switch flips to performance mode.
“It’s just me being focused. Coach LeBlanc always says I’m the type of person that can click on real quick,” Colbert said. “I feel like once I step on the court, it’s nothing but game face.”
Colbert wound up starting a bulk of her freshman season and was again a starter during her sophomore campaign before a left knee injury Dec. 17, 2019 (she had the date memorized) required surgery to repair a torn meniscus. It set her on a nine-month recovery path that wasn’t made any easier as the pandemic took hold.
"I had to do a lot of the physical therapy on my own. But, I have to say I did have a lot of help from Ali Mack,” Colbert said, referring to one of her good friends, Mack, a senior multi-sport athlete for Temple. “She always told me to go out (and train) with her. We’d go run hills. She just kept me moving all the time.”
Colbert was cleared in September 2020 for her junior season, in which she averaged 13 points in District 12-6A and earned a first-team all-league selection as the Tem-Cats finished second and nabbed a second straight playoff berth.
Colbert played AAU for the first time this summer. She said that experience opened her eyes to a different level of competition and also led her to “come out of my shell” offensively. She’s stayed shell free, so to speak, while maintaining her shut-down level defense and harnessing the responsibility of a go-to option with the Tem-Cats.
“I’ve always been more of a defensive person, but now, like, some of the offense goes through me and I have to bring more out of that. I have to create something for us,” she said. “I’m getting more confident in my shot so making them in practice is making me want to shoot more in the games.”
Colbert isn’t sure if she’ll continue her playing career in college, though LeBlanc — a four-year contributor at LSU — seems certain the lone player who’s been around all four of her years at the helm has the capabilities to do so.
In the meantime, Colbert — who is interested in pursuing a career as a registered nurse — and the Tem-Cats are mostly focused on putting together the pieces for a run at a district championship.
The league slate opens Dec. 10 at Killeen.
“To see the player that she is now, the growth is exciting and special for me as a coach because I consider her one of mine because she came in as a freshman my first year here,” LeBlanc said. “It’s amazing to see.”